News / Americas

    At Chavez's Birthplace, Maduro Vows to Win Venezuela Vote

    Venezuela's acting president and presidential candidate Nicolas Maduro (C) at a campaign rally in state of Barinas, April 2, 2013.
    Venezuela's acting president and presidential candidate Nicolas Maduro (C) at a campaign rally in state of Barinas, April 2, 2013.
    Reuters
    Venezuelan acting President Nicolas Maduro made a pilgrimage to late socialist leader Hugo Chavez's birthplace on Tuesday and pledged to win the April 14 election in his honor.
           
    "We regard Chavez as our father. He marked our life, that's why we came here to make an oath in the land of his birth that we will never let him down,'' Maduro, 50, said in the village of Sabaneta where his former boss was born.
           
    "I am going to be president of this country because he ordered it,'' Maduro added at the launch of his formal election campaign before the oil-producing South American nation's presidential poll.
           
    Opinion polls give Maduro, a former bus driver who rose to be Chavez's foreign minister and vice president, a formidable lead of between 11 and 20 percentage points over opposition challenger Henrique Capriles.
           
    Tuesday marked the start of a lightning 10-day campaign period, although both candidates already had started trying to court voters. The ballot will be the country's first without Chavez after more than a dozen during his 14-year rule.
           
    The burly and mustachioed Maduro is benefiting from the personal blessing of Chavez, who named him as his preferred heir three months before dying of cancer on March 5.
           
    That endorsement, in Chavez's last public speech, stopped in-fighting over the succession within the ruling Socialist Party and transformed Maduro's status in the eyes of his mentor's passionate supporters.
           
    "He is the only candidate who guarantees national independence and can achieve the historic objectives that were set by our commander,'' said Cynthiq Nouel, a 29-year-old resident of Sabaneta.
           
    Maduro also has a well-financed state apparatus behind him, working-class credentials that play well with loyal 'Chavista' supporters, and the goodwill of millions who have benefited from Chavez's oil-funded social welfare projects, or "missions.'' Venezuela has the world's largest oil reserves.
           
    Venezuela's opposition leader and presidential candidate Henrique Capriles at campaign rally in Caracas, April 1, 2013Venezuela's opposition leader and presidential candidate Henrique Capriles at campaign rally in Caracas, April 1, 2013
    x
    Venezuela's opposition leader and presidential candidate Henrique Capriles at campaign rally in Caracas, April 1, 2013
    Venezuela's opposition leader and presidential candidate Henrique Capriles at campaign rally in Caracas, April 1, 2013
    Capriles is a centrist state governor who wants to roll back the economic nationalizations and political polarization of the Chavez era in favor of a Brazilian-style model of free markets with strong welfare spending.
           
    He was launching his campaign in the oil-producing eastern state of Monagas on Tuesday. Opposition strategists are hoping the "sympathy'' effect over Chavez's death will wear off, giving Capriles a fighting chance if he focuses voters' attention on their myriad daily problems, from potholes to power cuts.
          
    Capriles Lampoons Maduro

    Capriles, 40, vows to keep Chavez's "missions,'' though he plans to staff them with Venezuelans instead of the more than 40,000 Cuban workers who poured into the country under Chavez.
           
    "With Henrique Capriles, from April 14 all Venezuelans will earn more, eat better and sleep peacefully,'' his campaign director Carlos Ocariz said at an event in Caracas to launch the formal campaign.

    Capriles is promising to raise the minimum salary by 40 percent to counter the impact of a recent devaluation, diversify the economy away from oil, and combat crime levels that ballooned during Chavez's rule.
           
    He lampoons Maduro as an incompetent official trying pathetically to imitate Chavez.
           
    Maduro's visit to Sabaneta on Tuesday was a recreation of Chavez's successful presidential re-election bid last year, when he began a series of rallies in the village.
           
    Accompanied by family members and political leaders, Maduro and others told stories about Chavez - recalling, for example, how he used to sell sweets on the local streets.
           
    Shaded by mango trees in the garden of the humble home where Chavez was raised by his grandmother, musicians played his favorite "llanera'' songs from the Venezuelan plains that inspired much of his rhetoric and ideas.
           
    "Nicolas Maduro will be elected on April 14 by the majority of our people to continue accelerating the revolution,'' said Chavez's elder brother, Adan, alongside Maduro.
           
    They admired a tree planted by Chavez that is named "Revolution,'' and another named "Rebellion'' that was planted by Bolivian President Evo Morales on a previous visit to the house by the two Latin American leftist leaders and friends.
           
    Though Maduro looks on course to win the vote, he faces a tough task beyond April 14 putting state finances back in order after blowout election-year spending in 2012 and balancing a disparate coalition that for years was kept in line by Chavez's strong personality.
           
    So far, the campaign has been characterized by personal attacks and claims of dirty tricks by both sides. Local media coverage has illustrated the deep political differences.
           
    Press freedom group Reporters Without Borders said journalists had to act responsibly and the authorities must apply the laws impartially. "It is time to leave behind the polarization, with constant insults and vilification, that has dominated the media landscape for so long,'' it said.

    You May Like

    Saudi Arabia’s New Female Politicians in the Other Room 

    Many in Saudi Arabia say elected representatives should share unsegregated spaces; according to a recent survey, more than half the Saudi population, both men and women, prefer to work in a segregated place

    Russia Not ‘Apologetic’ for Syria Airstrikes

    With Moscow criticized for targeting armed opponents of President Assad, Russia’s UN envoy says his country ‘acting in a very transparent manner’

    Pakistan Warns of Islamic State's Growing Reach

    Aftab Sultan, General Director General of Intelligence Bureau (IB), briefed Senate Committee in closed hearing, saying that IS-linked groups have been expanding in Pakistan

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growthi
    X
    February 10, 2016 5:54 AM
    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growth

    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Civil Rights Pioneer Remembers Struggle for Voting Rights

    February is Black History Month in the United States. The annual, month-long national observance pays tribute to important people and events that shaped the history of African Americans. VOA's Chris Simkins reports how one man fought against discrimination to help millions of blacks obtain the right to vote
    Video

    Video Jordanian Theater Group Stages Anti-Terrorism Message

    The lure of the self-styled “Islamic State” has many parents worried about their children who may be susceptible to the organization’s online propaganda. Dozens of Muslim communities in the Middle East are fighting back -- giving young adults alternatives to violence. One group in Jordan is using dramatic expression a send a family message. Mideast Broadcasting Network correspondent Haider Al Abdali shared this report with VOA. It’s narrated by Bronwyn Benito
    Video

    Video Migrant Crisis Fuels Debate Over Britain’s Future in EU

    The migrant crisis in Europe is fueling the debate in Britain ahead of a referendum on staying in the European Union that may be held this year. Prime Minister David Cameron warns that leaving the EU could lead to thousands more migrants arriving in the country. Meanwhile, tension is rising in Calais, France, where thousands of migrants are living in squalid camps. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clowns

    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Families Flee Aleppo for Kurdish Regions in Syria

    Not all who flee the fighting in Aleppo are trying to cross the border into Turkey. A VOA reporter caught up with several families heading for Kurdish-held areas of northern Syria.
    Video

    Video Rocky Year Ahead for Nigeria Amid Oil Price Crash

    The global fall in the price of oil has rattled the economies of many petroleum exporters, and Africa’s oil king Nigeria is no exception. As Chris Stein reports from Lagos, analysts are predicting a rough year ahead for the continent’s top producer of crude.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.

    More Americas News

    In Cuba, Racial Inequality Deepens With Tourism Boom

    As capitalism creeps in more than 60 years after revolution that promised social equality, local residents, analysts concerned about gap between haves and have nots

    Video WFP: 3.6 Million Haitians Face Food Insecurity

    Half of Haiti's population works in agriculture; Around 75 percent live on less than $2 per day

    Video Olympics Technology Center Getting Ready for 2016 Games

    This year, the whole system will be cloud-based, enabling millions of fans around the world instant access to relevant information about the competition

    Red Cross Scales Up Community Action to Combat Zika

    ICRCS is mobilizing its large volunteer force in affected communities to help them clear up trash and areas where mosquitoes can breed

    Haiti's Prime Minister Calls for Peace on 1st Day Without President

    Evans Paul urges Haitian protesters to end weeks of sometimes violent street marches and join a dialogue to create a transitional government

    Social Media Erupts in Support of Sikh Man Barred from Flight

    Waris Ahluwalia says he was barred from boarding a flight from Mexico City to New York because he refused to remove his turban